Having qualified as a Biomedical Scientist in 1995, Rachel Boyer-Blanchard has worked in university research projects, developing molecular methods to determine the link between the HPV group of viruses and gynecological cancers.
Following eight years as a UKAS Assessment Manger in Medical Laboratories, Rachel has joined our training team.
Here she shares her views on further accreditation options for COVID-19 Private Providers to develop their management systems.
I’ve achieved accreditation, now what?
In the last twelve months many of you, as Private Providers, have worked tirelessly to implement management systems to achieve accreditation for the COVID-19 sampling and testing services you provide. So, now what?
- Maintaining and developing your conformity to achieve improved efficiency and maintain accreditation.
- Where else could you look to extend your competence and accreditation?
Firstly, the process of accreditation does not stop after your grant. Please remember if you make/consider making any changes to your accredited scope, contact your Assessment Manager and discuss these to determine if they will constitute a requirement for an extension to scope.
If you continue to develop your management system and competence, the benefits you will gain will grow. They will include things like:
- Reduction in errors through ongoing assessment of competence, and root cause investigation, as well as corrective and preventive action. This equates to less time and money spent responding to the same issues repeatedly.
- Improvement in customer satisfaction through regular interfaces and delivery of a timely and competent service will mean customers are more likely to recommend you to others and more likely to return to you for repeat business.
- Regular audit means you are more likely to identify problems in your own systems before they lead to non-conforming work, or are identified by a third-party assessment. This means you will be able to resolve these non-conformities without the additional cost that may come from the non-conforming work and extra assessment review.
- Ongoing review of management system activity including audits, errors, incidents, non-conforming work including communication with key stakeholders will demonstrate management commitment to continuous improvement and will feed into overall continual improvement in service delivery. Also, in conjunction with points 1-3, you are working towards a culture of “right first time”.
- Successful surveillance activity leading to maintenance of accreditation and overall demonstrable continual improvement.
These are just a small number of benefits that you should start to see as your management system becomes more embedded; the list above is not exhaustive. If you haven’t already seen them, we have a number of case studies available to give insight into the benefits, you can find those here.
So, now you have a management system and your sample collection and PoCT is accredited for COVID-19 Testing, what else can you do? How might this influence your future business model? How can your business develop from the investment in accreditation?
Accreditation processes and the implementation of a robust management system will support your diversification into other areas that are likely to utilise the same competence you have demonstrated for sampling and PoCT for COVID-19.
You might want to consider if your other services, could be bought into your scope of accreditation. In primary care private providers this might include phlebotomy services you conduct along with other PoCT devices such as INR (coagulation) monitoring, blood glucose checking, HbA1C (for diabetes), lipids/cholesterol, CRP (inflammatory markers) to name a few.
If you are offering COVID-19 PCR at POC are there any other similar viral PCRs that the same equipment can be used to identify, for example other respiratory viral screens, sometimes as multiple tests all part of the same cartridge-based pallet.
There is a whole raft of different PoCT devices available on the market that will utilise similar competencies that you have now demonstrated, and if you have already implemented a governance body for PoCT, now is the time to think of what else you can do that would benefit from inclusion in your scope of accreditation.
Remember, accreditation provides assurance of your competence and commitment to deliver diagnostic services and in itself may deliver you with a competitive advantage and an ability to stand out in the crowded marketplace.
If clients are coming to you for a COVID-19 test, what other accredited healthcare activity can you provide?
If this is something you might be interested in progressing, in the first instance speak to your Assessment Manager. They will be able to guide you through the extension to scope process that would apply.